After five years of mental anguish, I've finally figured out how to landscape my long driveway.
Fascinating stuff, I know.
The problem is, we have one of those driveways that goes between other houses and our place is set back from the street. It's sloped and the beds on either side of the driveway are a little higher than the drive. This means that when it rains, which happens daily here in Seattle, lots of debris flows where it shouldn't.
Also, in my neighborhood, the front yards all have a "community" feel. They flow into each other, so putting up some property divider seemed unneighborly...
Long story short, I've decided to put a 5 foot panel of 4 foot tall picket fence on either side and halfway down the driveway to separate the "driveway" from the "front yard." This creates a visual barrier and a feeling of being in the community, and then entering onto our property. Equally, the pretty, little fence has a "go away" and "welcome" aspect that I like.
Before the fence can be installed though, there was work to be done on the driveway. I had frost-damaged Dogwoods that were an eyesore. I got a quote to have them chopped, but grew impatient and pulled out my electric 12'' saw last week. Talk about therapy. Chop-chop. I hacked all the trees down and made a big mess with the branches, but not having the trees of death to welcome me home was worth the soreness in my hands the following few days.
I still need to pull some dead ornamental grass out of the driveway landscaping and rake the pine needles up before the next phase (adding ground cover), but instead, I woke up to a winter wonderland on Saturday.
After following the Northwest Flower and Garden Show on Facebook and Twitter, I've become aware of garden bloggers that are relevant to my needs. They write about the challenges I'm facing in the garden, most of the writers are in Zone 5 and these people are great resources for an aspiring gardener, like myself.
As I continue to find more gardening resources, I add them to the top of the list.
Life on the Balcony Container Gardening
Urban Organic Gardener based in L.A.
GARDEN BLOGGERS from the Northwest Flower and Garden Show 2012
Garden2Blog Networking Event in Arkansas, 2012 Hosted by P. Allen Smith
Over the weekend I slipped my boots on and went out to rake. I don't enjoy raking and I guess I kind of went into auto-pilot because instead, I found myself clearing a bed where I intend to put an herb garden.
I've been thinking a lot lately about how to bunny-proof my herbs and I settled on raising the planting containers, planting the same herbs in the ground and taking notes about what the bunnies like and don't like.
I'll re-plant the safe herbs again next year and keep the delicious ones out of reach. Right now, my raised planters look like a yard sale, but I think that when everything fills in, it will be pretty. Fingers crossed.
I'm enlisting the help of my trusted gardening friend with this project.
Here are my notes so far on what I may plant. I have more research to do, to determine what's hardy, here in Zone 5.
While flipping through a gardening trade-magazine, I noticed an add for a motorized, powered wheel barrow. It's not a ride-on, but compared to the JohnDeer Pro Gator ($23,000 base) I thought it was worth a look.
The Powerwagon is a comparative steal at $2,547 with features like:
The Power Wheels version is $340. If only I were 3 feet tall.
I finally have a few moments to sift through the flyers, brochures and business cards that I collected, at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show.
I only bought a few things, the first being a forged pruner. As I was paying for the pruner, I had the strangest sense of deja vous and recalled that I bought the same pruner from the Wildflower Seed and Tool Company last year. I haven't been very good about putting my tools away, so most of them are covered with rust.
One of the things I love about attending garden and flower shows is the opportunity to see new products and to speak with the manufacturers and distributors of those products. At the show, I came upon a vendor who was selling a product that uses a unique way of sowing seeds.
SeedBallz® is an Oregon-based company that has revived an old method of sowing seeds by embedding them in balls made of clay and soil humus. Native Americans were known to wrap their corn seeds in clay to keep them from being eaten by birds.
Each SeedBallz® contains numerous seeds. I bought two packages with chives, cilantro, parsley and basil. I bought one package of various wildflowers. Supposedly, I just toss the Seedballz on top of the soil and let them grow. Whether on the ground, or in a container, they just need to be kept moist, and the seeds contained inside will germinate and grow in clusters. The balls are not meant to be buried.
SeedBallz® are hand-rolled in the USA by people with developmental disabilities and sell for $6.95 for each packet. There currently have 140 employees. You can buy SeedBallz® online and in various retail locations throughout the country.
I am itching to get started on my herb garden and I can't wait to see if these clay balls are too good to be true.
The last thing I bought is a lavender sachet from Pelindaba Lavender. Two sachets came in the packet, so I gave one to a friend as a thank you gift and tossed one into my car. The scent of lavender in my car feels like a luxury.
I collected lots of business cards, brochures and ideas.
I don't think I'll need to go to the show again for another few years. I have plenty to work on at home and there is inspiration galore on Pinterest. Check out my Garden Porn bulletin board for some ideas.
Extra pointers on Seedballz, courtesy of ourlittleacre.com
Before I dive into the splendor of all that is the Northwest Flower and Garden Show (happening now through Sunday, February 12th), I have to share my excitement about discovering "Environmental Horticulture" at Lake Washington Institute of Technology.
Just yesterday I was scratching my head thinking how liberating it would be, to learn more about gardening in a formal, classroom environment. I took a horticulture class in high school and loved it. Ten (or so) years later, my opportunity to garden has been renewed, and I have been begging for mentors.
Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWIT) had a booth at the Flower and Garden Show with a couple Environmental Horticulture graduates there to answer questions. I compromised their time firing off questions and they came across as love-drunk, excited horticulturists who loved every minute of their time at LWIT. They continued on to jobs in the industry and were able to make valuable connections after having studied with Don W. Marshall.
Q & A
Q. How often do classes meet?
A. Classes currently meet Monday-Thursday 7am-noon, childcare is available on site.
Q. Where do classes meet?
A. Classes meet in a 1200 sq. ft. state of the art growing facility
Q. What degree or certificate is earned by taking classes?
A. Students can earn an AAS (Associate of Applied Science) degree- 105 credits OR an Environmental Horticulture – Certificate of Proficiency- 84 credits
Q. How much is tuition? Both courses take one full year, including summer.
A. Associate of Applied Science $11,883
A. Environmental Horticulture – Certificate tuition costs $9,745
A. Childcare, if my kid wasn't in school yet, would cost an additional $2,171
Q. What do graduates go on to do?
A. Upon earning their certificate, grads tend to open their own yard care business, work as a sole-proprietor gardening for a handfull of clients, or hold other horticulture-related positions. Alumni Spotlight
Q. What types of students sign up for this course?
A. From what I can tell, it seems like students have left other industries (telecommunications, technology... desk jobs) to "return to their roots" (pun intended).
I could definitely see myself earning the certificate of proficiency in a few years, once both my kids are in school. I can imagine all the money and plants I would save, just by not killing them the moment we came into contact.
Environmental Horticulture at Lake Washington Institute of Technology
It's fair to say that I have hydraulic lift envy.
About 90% of my yard work requires removing debris and dumping it back in the compost pile. I have a trailer attachment for our trusty lawn mower that holds a lot, but I have two problems with it.
1. I can't back it up worth a damn, despite three years of practice. I jack-knife and end up hopping off the mower, picking up the trailer and setting it straight. Or, I completely remove the trailer from the mower and roll it back into the compost pile by hand.
2. I have to do just as much work to remove the debris from the trailer, as I did getting the leaves in there.
A friend of mine has a utility vehicle with a hydraulic dumper. It's one vehicle, so there's no worry when it comes to backing it up. She loads it and dumps it. End of story.
The John Deere ProGator Utility Vehicle would make the hard work in my yard a lot easier. Sadly, it costs as much as a new car at over $23,000 with an additional $5k for a 4-wheel drive traction unit.
I'll hang onto my mower/wagon and love it because without it, I would be making 4x as many trips to the compost heap pushing a wheel barrow.
Along with the Woodinville Garden Tour, the Northwest Flower and Garden Show is my other favorite, annual, religious experience.
With so many diverse gardening ideas, I can barely cram them all onto my digital camera.
Each exhibitor spends a fair part of their year planning, organizing and facilitating the design and creation of their trade show booth. Think of it as Vegas for flowers. Participants try to top last year's displays to rival their competitors and create a "buzz worthy" showpiece. If you're a paying guest, it's all for your benefit.
This year's show is this week! I'll be going and I'm ecstatic that their policy on photography is "not only allowed, it is encouraged."
Buy tickets here.
Follow Northwest Flower and Garden Show on Facebook or check out their website.
Like the true, gardening nerd I am, I pre-ordered the new "Sunset Western Garden Book" and I've been sleeping with it under my pillow, ever since it arrived on my door-step.
That may be a slight exaggeration, but it's true that this encyclopedia for the best plants for the western gardening zones is detailed, has over 2,000 color photos and is extensively researched.
Sunset Western Garden Book at Amazon $22.02
Quick updates charting my novice and experimental, gardening adventures at home.
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